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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 1.44

From anticommunism through neoliberalism to populism: the logic of the trajectory in Central Europe


  • Prof. Michał BUCHOWSKI

Primary authors


The postsocialist transformation in Central Europe was not a unilinear process that has led away from the authoritarian system to democratic rules granting individual freedoms. The argument is made that the social exclusion based on class order established thanks to the existing ‘global hierarchy of value’ and cultural hegemony played an important role in shaping postsocialist processes. In the process known as ‘intellectual containment’, a class of ‘losers’ has been invented. Many discriminated groups of people felt excluded from the modernization of society. Degraded materially and symbolically by the neoliberal system turned to rightist and nationalist values seen as a shelter capable to guard them against dangers brought by neoliberalism, globalisation and cosmopolitanism. They were joined by some members of the newly formed middle class whose aspirations have not been fulfilled. Cultural fear has been mixed with cultural fundamentalism as well as with – at least in some cases – with ‘phantom Islamophobia’ incited by the “refugee crisis”. All of these reason combined have boosted xenophobia. A strengthening of the populist agenda ultimately has a class background. How rightist and populist programmes manage to dupe postsocialist subjects disappointed with neoliberalism asks for critical anthropological insights.